ICONOCLASTS: ART OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM
UNTIL 7th JANUARY
Group show, see here
13 contemporary artists fill a room each at the Saatchi Gallery until 7th January. They are Maurizio Anzeri, Matthew Chambers, Daniel Crews-Chubb, Josh Faught, Aaron Fowler, Danny Fox, Makido Kudo, Dale Lewis, Thomas Mailaender, Kate MccGwire, Rennee So, Douglas White and Alex Williams Wynn.
No real theme ties this merry bunch together, besides the alleged Iconoclasm (as it is titled) which is something that can be attributed to most contemporary painting, whether it is conscious or not. Not exactly out of the mainstream. This exhibition is meant to present the cream of the crop of rebel-ry, but instead we’re presented with rebellion in a can, easy to consume within the walls of the Saatchi gallery. And that’s okay.
I wandered amongst the rooms unaware of the official unifying theme, but every one of these artists certainly employs unusual image making practices to question the way the image is made, and iconoclasm itself in a 21st century context, when imagery itself is brought into question via the advent of the internet and the fast changing ways of how we consume culture.
Imagery is therefore dealt with in vastly different ways from room to room. Thomas Mailaender most notably (and memorably, as his images plaster the exhibition posters) ‘sunburns’ old photographs onto his willing human canvases (victims?) in his project Illustrated People using existing photographic negatives and a UV lamp. Josh Faught collages torn tapestry with everyday objects – an advert for a gay traffic school, a book entitled Beat Depression and a plaster cat (but not all at once!) The textiles reference the ‘queer’ and ‘feminine’ domestic domain of crafts in the 70’s with techniques such as crochet, loom weaving and ikat.
Daniel Crews Chubb is undeniably De Kooning-esque, yet takes his imagery from online pornography (which I suppose De Kooning would also have done had the internet been a thing!) and the thick impasto he uses clashes with raw canvas, leading one to think that it might be unfinished, and thereby revealing the process of production and destruction of the traditional image. Themes of ancient Gods and ritualistic acts tie in nicely with the theme of iconoclasm, not to mention alluding to the 20th century masters who made the destruction of traditional painting their mission. He is the abstract expressionist for the millennial.
Danny Fox shows us the ‘my child could do that’ painted versions of every day life from a painter with no formal training, but definitely shows more sophistication than your average St Martins graduate. He lived the true rebel life in Brixton, squatting and washing dishes to support his early painting career whilst adorning himself with homemade tattoos and hipster beard. These days he is living in LA as a bit of an underground art world darling – there really is nothing the art world loves more than a “rebel”. He is unquestionably the star of the show. My favourite of his paintings shows two women waiting nervously in a Planned Parenthood waiting room, in a scene slightly akin to a modern day annunciation scene, the two angels hovering above the expectant mother(s) blowing their trumpets in a burst of light, in deadlock with the anxious faces and bleak room.
Oh and by the way, no your child could not do that.
(I highly recommend reading this article if you want to know more about Danny Fox)